Ethos and environment

A school’s ethos and environment should support the whole school community to feel safe, valued and included.

The school's ethos and environment are not just about its physical space and values but also focuses on fighting mental health stigma, discrimination and bullying, including gender-based violence. It ensures that both students and staff feel truly included.

Thriving: Helping children to thrive through their ethos and environment

  • Recognise at any one time, 80% of pupils are thriving. So, take a positive approach to wellbeing. This includes using strengths-focused language.
  • Whole school approach work involving changes to the school climate are likely to be more successful than brief class-based mental illness prevention Wells et al. (2003).
  • Recognise mental health and physical health as equally important to a pupil’s ability to thrive and achieve their potential. Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition (2023).
  • Ensure that policies are aligned. For example, work on MHEW aligns with policies on behaviour, attendance, and bullying. Ensure that these policies are implemented in the everyday life of the school. Described by Cocking et al. (2020) as “walking the talk”.
  • Ensure that all pupils, regardless of their current levels of mental health are able to participate in school life and all its opportunities.
  • Allow open and honest conversations around mental health, and practise open curiosity around thoughts and feelings.
  • Follow the DfE guidelines around mental health and school attendance. Mental health issues affecting a pupil's attendance: guidance for schools - GOV.UK.
  • Recognise that different communities have different beliefs about mental health and wellbeing, but that this should not be a barrier to addressing stigma.
  • Create environments where pupils, staff and parents who have additional needs (including neurodivergent needs) are able to thrive.
  • Demonstrate a clear commitment to tackling peer-on-peer abuse and bullying, following the guidelines as laid out by the West Sussex Safeguarding Children Partnership.
  • Demonstrate a clear commitment to anti-racism, supported by the Promoting Equality and Tackling Racism Guidance for West Sussex Schools.
  • Create a sense of belonging for all pupils, from all backgrounds, regardless of race, gender, disability, faith, or sexual orientation.
  • Understand that all behaviour is communication and embed a relational approach to behaviour. Therapeutic Thinking training is available.

Developing your ethos and environment to help pupils to thrive